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Projects I'm building a steam powered Model A

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wafflemaster, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,808

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    Looks fantastic. I am curious why you decided to run a solid axle with no differential. Ease of connecting to the motor?
     
  2. clunker
    Joined: Feb 23, 2011
    Posts: 1,419

    clunker
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Boston MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    Exactly. I haven't even gotten around to fixing our kitchen faucet that rusted out months ago, let alone nearly finishing an experimental steam car from scratch started shortly after Christmas.
     
  3. At first, when this didn't get deleted, I thought I'd follow along, in a sort of morbid fascination, waiting to see how many body parts would be intact after the big explosion, or, if you pulled it off, this contraption would exceed twenty miles an hour.

    Well morbid shit aside, I've sure learned a hell of a lot.

    I'll not enter into any debate re calling this a Hot Rod or anything else, but I've been impressed to learn of the early speed success of steam, and it's potential.

    Speed seems to transend some guidelines, example, drag racing and Bonneville, so why not steam.

    So, carry on Sir.
    You've made a big splash in our Hamb pond.
     
    BradinNC, powrshftr, crminal and 4 others like this.
  4. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 639

    deathrowdave
    Member
    from NKy

    Check these out! Use caution , I sure the locomotive was operated by a licensed engineer and was built to code and well maintained to code requirements . Accidents happen , but we must try to prevent at all costs , safety doesn't have a price tag , but the results of not using it does have a price tag attached .
     

    Attached Files:

  5. MERCURYGUY
    Joined: Jul 30, 2009
    Posts: 682

    MERCURYGUY
    Member

     
  6. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 491

    Joe H
    Member

    I can tell you first hand, that steam oil is nasty stuff. Not deadly nasty, just nasty to clean up and get off your hands. Wear gloves and keep plenty of cardboard around. It also makes a good steering box lubricant.

    If it isn't leaking on the driveway, it's not a true steam car!
     
    wafflemaster likes this.
  7. Locomobiler
    Joined: Mar 13, 2017
    Posts: 15

    Locomobiler

    Hi Waffle,

    Looking really good! Looks the biz...

    A few things :)

    In one pic is shown an air relief valve, that isn't needed on the main steam line. To be in compliance, each boiler should have it's own relief valve and direct piped to the boiler, and no shut off valves in between, and the steam lines to these are dedicated meaning they are not shared with anything else that could alter the pressure/temp that the PRV sees.

    Trycocks and Stilling columns. Water column is called a "Stilling Column" These are really meant for firetube type boilers where the water level is generally stable and these devices can determine water level in the absence of the sight glass. In a car, that you'd be trying to drive to get home, the try cocks would probably prove inconclusive even if they were accessible while driving. The water level in an Ofeldt is not very stable, there is a low volume of water to begin with, and much of it is in the generating tubes. Kill the fire and the water in the center drum will rise as a result.

    Remember this "Temperature and pressure go hand in hand". What happens in a boiler on varying demand, low demand, there is relatively stable water level. Under high demand, the sudden drop in pressure causes the water to boil violently, the steam bubbles in the water cause the overall volume to increase significantly and show very high water. (See the pressure was too low for the temperature and they quickly try to resync i.e. boil violently) As you can see by that, the water level is often times an approximation, if you understand where it is and what is happening, you can better determine how much water there is. My sight glass is mounted away from the boiler on the outside of the body, make a left turn, shows lots of water, make a right turn and it shows none. Take off fast, stop fast, same deal. I've driven it enough that I can make a pretty good approximation as to how much water is present. If you're ever driving and water level isn't moving, stop and shut down the fire, the upper or lower piping to the glass is plugged. Boilers should be blown down frequently at least twice a day or once at the end of a short run to prevent crud build up from accumulating. A boiler is essentially a still, whatever won't make pure steam gas stays in the boiler. It's amazing how much crud there is in city water.

    These sudden high demands (taking off fast, which you'll do a lot because there is nothing like the feel of steam power under high acceleration, smooth raw torque :)) will cause the water level to rise, the danger here is what's called "carry over", and that is when water enters the steam line. It can be catastrophic to piston valve engines because water cannot compress and there is no place for it to go, and it can blow a cylinder head off or break a con rod etc. Your engine looks to have slide valves so they can lift off the face and relieve an event like that. Your center drums have a steam dome on each which will help with this.

    The steam braided steam hoses look really good. They can only be used outside of the boiler casing. No where is proximity to the burner flame.

    You water tank looks to an air compressor tank, that's good, first of all, it's very durable and too, you could actually pressurize that to like 5psi and help your feedpumps out a bit.

    To the folks still issuing warnings. Yes, steam boilers have the potential to be very dangerous, however there is not one reported incident after many thousands were manufactured of a steam powered car ever blowing up for the last 100 years. Inherently water tube type boilers like the Ofeldt are safer than a Locomotive type or vertical firetube. Equally dangerous is strapping 25 gallons of highly volatile gasoline to the bottom of your car or pickup and often in a plastic tank and driving all over bottoming out, getting in to accidents etc, do most people ever even look at their gas tank to check it's condition? Then 20lb Propane cylinders on grills on peoples porches and decks and the sun beating down on them, there is enough fuel in one of those to blow up 5 houses, and they have a pressure relief valve set at about 300 psi and in the summer time it's very near that. People leaving them in their trunk on a hot day, unsecured rolling around in the back of their pickup. How many blow up? When was the last time you hydrostatic tested the old air compressor tank in your shop and inspected it's controls? They too have the potential cause an explosion with catastrophic results. Stories of hot water heaters leveling a home because someone removed the leaking relief valve and replaced it with a pipe plug, then the gas valve or thermostat stuck in the on position. How many times have you stood over a paper thin brass radiator with rock hard hoses working with a car overheating from a stuck thermostat? Did you know the steam pressure was capable of being around 40 psi and even higher when the cap couldn't handle it anymore? many folks have been burned with those, myself included, luckily not seriously. As you can see, many things have the potential to be very dangerous if handled improperly, they have a great safety record because they are typically handled properly. Thanks to Hollywood, every steam boiler blows up eventually, and that is what most people nowadays know about them - they blow up. I doubt Waffle is going to abandon his project because of someone's "gut feeling" based entirely on some other field , he is smartly seeking out help and acting on the advice. If steam is respected and handled properly, it's very safe. It's a lot of fun too.

    A little background on the Ofeldt name. In the 1920's when steam cars started disappearing from the roads, Ofledt found themselves with a great steam system and nothing to put it in. Looking for a market and knowing steam was great for cleaning greasy machinery, and after they had to abandon their portable whiskey still design because of prohibition, they started selling "steam cleaners", And named the company "Jenny". Where the term "Steam Jenny" comes from.

    -Ron
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
    Big A, BradinNC, LeoH and 7 others like this.
  8. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    Exactly. I was concerned about too much gear reduction with the stock axle/diff, and I'm familiar with chain drive. I figured that having no differential was tolerable considering the simplicity and weight savings, plus getting a chain drive to work with a stock axle would require a jackshaft and some other bits that I didn't feel like tackling at this stage. And I'm not planning on auto-crossing this thing too much...although maybe that is a new goal for this summer :) I would love to watch my local SCCA chapter try and classify it.
     
    powrshftr likes this.
  9. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    Thanks for the history, I love it. It's funny you mentioned that, I was planing on using the car for double duty...sometimes as a car, sometimes as a steam generator for cleaning. I want to plumb a pressure washer quick disconnect in the line somewhere haha. Mobile steam cleaning!

    I agree with you on the reliability of a stilling column on this contraption. At speed it will most likely be unreliable, but it's a starting point. Most of my cars have idiosyncrasies, I don't believe this will be an exception. One of the best parts of steam is learning how the device operates, what it likes and doesn't like, what it needs, how to read it...kinda like my wife. And she's way more dangerous than steam if you make her mad.

    You are correct, the water tank is a compressed air tank. I'm planning on giving it 5-10psi to help prime my pumps as well as help them work a little easier. I was thinking about coating it with a gas tank coating to reduce rust, but I'm not sure if it's worth the effort. I can always add it later.

    In other news, I worked on the exhaust today and I'm really happy with the results. Moving the engine 180 degrees allows the copper to be displayed a little more once all the bodywork is on.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm also working on adding more axle support by recycling the stock bearings from the original axle housing. I'm going to shove them into the hubs and then fabricate a trestle/bridge mounting system to keep them in place while clearing the (soon to be twin) sprockets.
     
    jerseyboy, powrshftr, slv63 and 8 others like this.
  10. Never2low
    Joined: Jan 14, 2008
    Posts: 987

    Never2low
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've been watching this from the start, wondering how far it would go.
    I'm no engineer, nor do I have any experience with steam, so I'm coming from a purely aethstetics point of view, but I gotta say, it's pretty fucking cool looking.
    The single headlight racer pic you posted, would be so wicked!
    One question; Are you planning to run it with the offset steering wheel, with room for two?
    I would love to see a single center seat, with a Schroeder style cowl steering setup, like the early sprit car or Miller Indy cars!
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  11. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 736

    drtrcrV-8
    Member

    I've been following this from the start & enjoying the hell out of it! I like the way you went so far "outside the box" that the 'proper' question has become "what box"?
     
    keywestjack likes this.
  12. blackanblue
    Joined: Feb 20, 2009
    Posts: 299

    blackanblue
    Member

    I also know several guys that a heavy into vintage byplanes restoring and building, and most don't have a "licence" for flying them, did Wilbur and Orville Wright have a "licence". I also understand the need for safety however half the people on the road with "licences" shouldn't be allowed on public roads,,, cool project carry on be careful.
     
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  13. oldgezer
    Joined: Jan 27, 2015
    Posts: 8

    oldgezer
    Member

    I also am interested in live steam model locomotives. The hobby magazines regularly have discussions about boiler safety, the need to follow ASME codes certified materials etc. Boilers are made of welded steel with copper tubes or steel tubes. Some boilers are stainless steel others are all copper silver soldered. very rarely is certified material used. Most welding isn't done by certified welders. Pressures are usually 100 psi.
    This has been going for more than 100 years and there has only been 1 recorded boiler explosion which resulted in a cloud of steam but no injuries.
    The folks that have posted pictures of exploding steam tractors, locomotives and power plants seem to not realize that 2gallons of water in a boiler doesn't have the energy that several thousand gallons in a large boiler does.
    Yes he could get scalded but the possibility is very small. The reality probably is that one of the copper coils will fail and a cloud of steam will come from the bottom of his boiler casing.
     
    DrivenDead and Locomobiler like this.
  14. Locomobiler
    Joined: Mar 13, 2017
    Posts: 15

    Locomobiler

  15. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    This has been a big inspiration for sure. I love being able to see all the valves working!
     
    marioD likes this.
  16. Locomobiler
    Joined: Mar 13, 2017
    Posts: 15

    Locomobiler

    That is really cool. It was weird, I've been corresponding about your car and that vid showed up in my YouTube homepage. Google, the all-knowing :)

    The body of that car, looks like mostly flat panels except for the front fairing/cowl in front of the cockpit, english wheel work there (something I'd like to learn some day). That would be a fun car for sure. Even a nice little Chevy small block, automatic trans and differential direct coupled to the tailstock, then come out the side with drive sprockets.

    Speaking of differentials: You should be okay with forgoing the differential as your design has considerable weight in the front and the car is long wheelbase. A few carriage makers have tried to go without one and due to the car having a 58" wheelbase and very light, got in to some embarrassing situations. Even trying to drive only one rear wheel will cause the car to pull to one side when driving.

    If you're interested, I manufacture chain drive differentials - a somewhat beefed up copy of the
    Locomobile differential. Cast from Nodular, if interested, send me an email and I'll get you the price, they probably have rules about selling anything on the discussion boards.

    Some use a model T differential and remove the ring gear and replace with a sprocket.

    IMG_4388 (Small).JPG IMG_4332 (Small).JPG

    Are you going to have springs on the rear? I have a source for eliptical springs if you or anyone else is interested.

    -Ron
     
  17. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    Progress!

    After my inaugural trip-around-the-building I made a short list of immediate needs. One of those items was more axle support. I could see the chain trying to walk off the sprocket due to misalignment and bending of the axle. The Model A axle housing carries a lot of weight...the axle itself is there to transmit torque. It's probably not a good idea to use the axle alone to carry all the weight. Whoops.

    To remedy the axle issue, I decided to add two more points to carry the load. I will reuse the bearings from the main axle housing and then locate them with a cage frame to span the sprocket. I needed some steel that would make a bridge over the sprocket...and the rear bumperettes seems to fit the bill:

    [​IMG]

    A little time on the bandsaw....

    [​IMG]

    ...and something like this should work nicely:

    [​IMG]

    I'm pretty sure the bumpers are spring steel, so welding will be a challenge. Welding spring steel is possible, as long as you don't intend on using it as a spring again! My design will be fairly rigid, so hopefully my welds will hold as intended. I'll anneal and preheat the steel before I weld and hope for the best. If it fails, I'll come up with something else. I just like the idea of recycling as many parts of the car as I can.

    At the same time I started designing and building the firebox enclosure for the boilers.

    [​IMG]

    I had some 10ga stainless left over from a bar top for the office, and it worked perfectly for this project. It's a little heavy, but it'll do for now.

    [​IMG]

    Tacked in place and test fitting one half of the enclosure:

    [​IMG]

    I plan to line the interior with some ceramic insulation to trap as much heat as possible. I'll be adding some "windows" to the sides as well...I think it'll be cool to be able to see the flames a little at night. I've sourced some ceramic glass (similar to Pyrex, but more durable) to use as viewing windows. We'll see how that goes.

    Another item on my shortlist was to make some hose/pipe supports for the new piping. Since I'm using braided teflon hose for the boiler-engine connection, I need to support the weight so that the hose isn't stressed. 15 minutes in CAD and 2 minutes on the Torchmate yielded some cool brackets.



    [​IMG]

    I then welded on some 1/2" pipe hangers...

    [​IMG]

    ..and the semi-finished product:

    [​IMG]

    New schedule 80 pipe (and a new whistle, I think it came off a building in Ohio to signal lunchtime) mocked up for fitting:

    [​IMG]

    I have some more work to do with the firebox, the rear end, pipe fitting etc, but I'm hoping to get it steaming again within a couple days.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
    slim38, jerseyboy, BradinNC and 5 others like this.
  18. thirtytwo
    Joined: Dec 19, 2003
    Posts: 2,101

    thirtytwo
    Member

    I have seen a lot of model a stuff re-perposed on farms/ranches , one thing that was done on a concrete mixer was to use another banjo mounted on the end of a torque tube to make a 90* turn, you could use this method to drive a rearend instead of your sprocket chain deal perhaps?
     
    wafflemaster likes this.
  19. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    I finally completed installation of the new piping, hoses and sightglass (stilling column?) I put a little heat under her and checked for leaks, so far so good. The new exhaust sounds really good.

     
  20. Ralphies54
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 482

    Ralphies54
    Member

    LMAO
     
  21. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    Progress--

    Did some testing with my thermal-imaging setup to verify temps at various areas. Operating temperature for most of the piping is just above 210 degrees F...at least without insulation and at low heat/pressure. The firebox is almost complete, so I'll re-test when that is installed.



    Temperature displayed on the top-left is the maximum temperature seen in the image (basically the burner). Temperature displayed in the center is the point reading.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  22. keywestjack
    Joined: Jul 14, 2013
    Posts: 86

    keywestjack
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Pittsburgh

    I am really enjoying this thread and totally impressed with your work!!
     
    powrshftr likes this.
  23. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 3,369

    BJR
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    A friend of mine has a Stanley Steamer so this thread is fun for me to read. Keep on it!!:D
     
    powrshftr likes this.
  24. mike bowling
    Joined: Jan 1, 2013
    Posts: 2,904

    mike bowling
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Now THIS is a little different; really cool build, and great fabricating.
     
    powrshftr likes this.
  25. mkebaird
    Joined: Jan 21, 2014
    Posts: 98

    mkebaird
    Member
    from Oregon

    Very cool project. You may have already considered using chain tensioners similar to those used on motorcycles:

    Unknown.jpg
     
  26. weps
    Joined: Aug 1, 2008
    Posts: 456

    weps
    Member
    from auburn,IN

    Great build. I do think that your drive chain is too small. It physically may work, but the old American laFrance (and other) old time chain drive cars had probably #100 or larger. Certainly more money, but might add a more 'authentic' look(?)
     
    flatford39 likes this.
  27. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    I totally agree. Since I didn't know what type of gearing I would need, I decided to use #35 chain to start. It's cheap and go kart sprockets are easy to find in just about any ratio. I think that once I figure out the right number of teeth I'll go up to a much larger chain, probably something off of a motorcycle or slightly larger. It mostly depends on availability and selection of sprockets. I love the old chain-driven cars like the American laFrance, but I think those chains might be a little overkill. I like the look, but I bet 4-5 of those links weigh more than my entire chain haha.
     
  28. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    Yep, I am working out a tensioner arrangement as we speak. Thanks for the suggestion, that image you attached is a nice design. I'm leaning towards a jackshaft/idler gear system mounted on the low side of the chain. It'll see tension in reverse but it should be able to handle it.
     
    DylanHill1931 and mkebaird like this.
  29. kma4444
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 197

    kma4444
    Member

    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  30. Very rarely reply to any threads on here but this really peaked my interest.

    I'm no steam engineer, but my boss has a Stanley Steam car and I love it! This build is awesome, everything hot rodding is about. Creativity, engineering, thinking outside the box, not using what everyone else does and having some initiative. It's every bit a hot rod.

    Can't wait to see more progress, absolutely love the copper exhaust and it sounds amazing!!!
     

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